Action all the Way in the 4 Hours of Monza

2019 ELMS Champions IDEC Sport returned to winning ways for the first time since the 2019 4 Hours of Portimão, with Paul Loup Chatin taking the chequered flag at the end of a drama filled 4 Hours of Monza. The French driver finished ahead of the no65 Panis Racing and the no9 Prema Racing Orecas in a race that saw four Safety Car and one Full Course Yellow periods.

However, a 10 second post race penalty for the no9 Oreca (Stewards Decision no24) saw Prema Racing demoted to 5thand the no21 Muehlner Motorsport Oreca move into the final podium position, the Belgian teams first in LMP2, ahead of the no22 United Autosports Oreca.

The LMP3 battle was won by the no13 Euro Interpol Competition Ligier, with Guilherme Oliveira finishing the four-hour race nine seconds ahead of the no6 360 Racing Ligier of Ross Kaiser.

The no2 United Autosports Ligier of Finn Gehrsitz went off track and dropped back down the order with 18 minutes of the race remaining and the leading no10 Eurointernational Ligier of Glenn Van Berlo was handed a drive through penalty in the final five minutes of the race.

Reigning Champions Iron Lynx were the first of the 12 LMGTE cars to cross the finish line with Davide Rigon in the no60 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO fighting his way up the order to take the chequered flag at the home race for the all Italian team.

However, the no60 Ferrari stopped on track and was pushed to the pitlane by the no83 Iron Dames Ferrari, which is a breach of Article 15.1.1 of the 2022 ELMS Sporting Regulations and Article 2.5 of the FIA International Sporting Code (ISC) and was disqualified.The Iron Lynx team have appealed this decision and the LMGTE results remain provisional (Stewards Decision no25).

The no77 Proton Competition Porsche, which finished in second place with Lorenzo Ferrari taking the finish just 0.9 seconds behind the lead car, is now classified as the winner with the no57 Kessel Racing Ferrari in second and the no18 Absolute Racing Porsche in third.

42 Cars take Race Start at Monza

With the air temperature at 32 degrees and the track temperature at 48 degrees, the race was going to be hot.At the start the no31 TDS Racing x Vaillante Oreca of Phillippe Cimadomo led the 42-car field into the first chicane, with the no65 Panis Racing Oreca of Julien Canal forcing his way past into the lead.

The rest of the field threaded its way round the first few corners. Niklas Kruetten in the no37 Cool Racing Ligier also passed the no31 Oreca, with Duncan Tappy demoting Cimadomo a further place at the start of lap 2. On lap 3 Kruetten caught and passed Canal to take the lead of the race.

Charles Crews had moved into the lead of LMP3 in the no13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier, getting ahead of the pole sitting no17 Cool Racing Ligier of Maurice Smith on the opening lap.The LMGTE pole position holder Christian Ried dropped to third in the no77 Proton Competition Porsche with the no83 Iron Lynx Ferrari of Sarah Bovy taking the lead ahead of the no66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Giacomo Petrobelli.

At the front Ferdinand Habsburg in the no9 Prema Racing Oreca was moving up the field, setting the fastest lap of the race as the Austrian pushed his way past Tappy’s no22 United Autosports Oreca to take third place and then ahead of Julien Canal on the next lap to take second.

The first Safety Car period was declared after 16 minutes of racing when the no55 Ferrari of Duncan Cameron and the no93 Porsche of Michael Fassbender made contact on the exit of Ascari, pushing the Porsche onto the kerbs.Fassbender’s Porsche lost grip and spun around hitting the barriers and spinning back across the track to collect the unlucky Memo Rojas in the no30 Duqueine Team Oreca and the no32 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari of Pierre Ehret.

All the drivers involved were all unharmed but the no93 Porsche and no30 Oreca were unable to continue.

After 15 minutes the stranded Porsche and resulting debris from the crash were removed from the track, and the barriers repaired to allow racing to resume.

Bent Viscaal in the no19 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca had been making up places from 14thon the grid before the Safety Car, passing the no22 United Autosports Oreca for 4thplace at the restart.

Another Safety Car period was declared just 4 minutes after the green flags were waved when the no14 Inter Europol Competition Ligier of James Dayson hit the barriers on the run into T1 after contact with another LMP3 car.Dayson was OK, but his car was out of the race.

The race went green again 10 minutes later, with the no37 Cool Racing Oreca and the no9 Prema Racing Oreca were side by side into T1, with Kruetten holding his nerve and his lead.Habsburg then ran wide onto the grass at the chicane and dropped to third behind the Panis Racing Oreca, only to regain the place a few corners later.

In the LMP3 category, Charles Crews was leading in the no13 Ligier ahead of Josh Caygill in the no2 United Autosports Ligier, with the no27 Cool Racing Ligier of Antoine Doquin up to third by lap 23 after starting at the back of the LMGTE grid.

The LMGTE field was still headed by the no83 Ferrari, with Sarah Bovy holding a gap to the no77 Porsche of Christian Ried and the no18 Absolute Racing Porsche of Andrew Haryanto.

The no37 Cool Racing Oreca and the no9 Prema Racing Oreca were still battling for the lead of the race and Kruetten took to the escape road at the chicane and rejoined still in front of Habsburg’s Oreca.

As the first hour ended a third Safety Car period was declared after the no3 United Autosports Ligier of Jim McGuire went off at the exit of Ascari in almost the same place as Michael Fassbender. Luckily the accident didn’t involve any other cars and the American driver was unharmed in the incident.

While behind the Safety Car Niklas Kruetten allowed Ferdinand Habsburg to go past to take the lead as he had gained an advantage by short cutting the chicane just before the Safety Car period.

After three laps behind the Safety Car the pitlane opened and many of the front runners came in for stops.

The race went back to green with the no19 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca of Bent Viscaal leading as the Dutch driver hadn’t stopped as he was on a different pitstop strategy.The no37 Oreca of Nico Lapierre was second, 20 seconds behind the leader, with the no28 IDEC Sport Oreca of Patrick Pilet in third.

Another incident at T1 involving the no7 Nielsen Racing Ligier of Tony Wells and the no17 Cool Racing Ligier of Michael Benham brought out the first and only Full Course Yellow of the race, which only lasted eight minutes while the cars were recovered by the quick working marshals.

The no28 and no37 Orecas came into the pits under FCY, with Patrick Pilet emerging ahead of Nico Lapierre after a quick turnround by the IDEC mechanics.The no37 Cool Racing Ligier was handed a 10 second penalty to be added to the next pitstop for a pitstop infringement as the engine was still running during refuelling.

After two hours of racing, the no13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier of Charles Crews had pulled out a 14 second gap to the chasing pack before handing over the car to Nico Pino at the next stop.In LMGTE the no77 Porsche of Gianmaria Bruni had gained the upper hand, with the Italian holding a 5 second advantage over Michelle Gatting in the no83 Ferrari.

The no28 Oreca pitted with 90-minutes left on the clock for Pilet to hand over to Paul Loup Chatin.The no9 Prema Racing Oreca went into the lead with Louis Deletraz four seconds ahead of the IDEC Sport Oreca, with Jack Aitken in the no34 Racing Team Turkey in third and leading the LMP2 Pro-Am category.

The Safety Car was deployed for a fourth time when the no4 DKR Engineering Duqueine of James Winslow went off into the gravel at T7.

At the restart Chatin got a better run into the chicane and the French driver swept past Deletraz to take the lead and then pulled out a sizeable gap to the reigning LMP2 champion.

The no77 Proton Competition Porsche was still leading with Lorenzo Ferrari ahead of Rahel Frey in the no83 Iron Lynx Ferrari, who had the no32 Rinaldi Racing Ferrari of Nicolas Varrone challenging her for second place.Varrone eventually got past the Swiss driver to move into second, but Frey returned the favour and challenged the Argentine at every turn.

With 60 minutes of the race remaining the no28 and no37 Orecas were each given a 20 second penalty for not respecting the FCY procedures while the no32 Ferrari and no9 Oreca were each given a 10 second penalty for a pitstop infringement.

Meanwhile Davide Rigon was closing on the battle for second place in the no60 Iron Lynx Ferrari and was joined by the no18 Absolute Racing Porsche and the no57 Kessel Racing Ferrari.A five-way battle ensued that saw the no60 Ferrari leap up the order and into second spot ahead of the no18 Porsche of Martin Rump in third.

The LMP3 class was being led by the no2 United Autosports Ligier of Finn Gehrsitz, the German fending off a determined challenge from Glenn Van Berlo in the no10 Eurointernational Ligier and Max Koebolt in the no11 Eurointernational Ligier.Guilherme Oliveira was lying fifth in the no13 Inter Europol Ligier but closing on Ross Kaiser in the no6 360 Racing Ligier.

Gerhsitz spun on the run into T1, dropping him down the order, with the two Eurointernational Ligiers now at the head of the LMP3 field with less than 20 minutes remaining. Oliveria moved into second place when Koebolt came into the pits and moved into the lead when Van Berlo also came into the pits to serve a drive through penalty.

The leading LMP2 cars had to make a last quick pitstop for fuel and when they emerged for the final time the no28 IDEC Sport Oreca of Paul Loup Chatin was 15 seconds ahead of the no65 Panis Racing Oreca and a further 8 seconds ahead of the no21 Muehlner Motorsport Oreca of Thomas Laurent, who had Louis Deletraz right behind him.

Deletraz challenged for third into T1 but had to short cut the chicane and the Swiss driver handed the place back to Laurent before the next corner.However, he challenged again and made a clean pass for the final podium spot before the end of the lap.

The battle for the LMP2 Pro-Am honours was really close with the no24 Nielsen Racing Oreca of Ben Hanley holding the lead, just 0.5s ahead of Jack Aitken in the no34 Racing Team Turkey Oreca and the no47 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca of James Allen.These three cars fought all the way to the chequered flag, with Hanley taking the win and finishing 6thoverall.

At the chequered flag the no60 Iron Lynx Ferrari was the first across the line, with Davide Rigon finishing 0.9 seconds ahead of Lorenzo Ferrari in the no77 Proton Competition Porsche.However, the no60 Ferrari stopped on track on its way back to the pits and was pushed to the pitlane by Rahel Frey in the no83 Ferrari, which had finished in 5th.This is not permitted under the regulations and was disqualified (Stewards Decision no25), This handed the victory to the no77 Proton Competition Porsche, with the no57 Kessel Racing Ferrari in second and the no18 Absolute Racing Porsche in third.Iron Lynx have appealed the stewards decision and the results remain provisional.

The LMP3 victory went to the no13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier when Guilherme Oliveira crossed the line 9.023s ahead of the no6 360 Racing Ligier and a further 39 seconds ahead of the third placed no11 Eurointernational Ligier.

Paul Loup Chatin brought the no28 IDEC Sport Oreca home for his and the team’s first win since October 2019 ahead if the no65 Panis Racing Oreca and the no9 Prema Racing Oreca. The Prema Racing Oreca received a post race penalty of 10 seconds for excessive braking in the pit entry (Stewards Decision no24) and this pushed the car down to 5thin the final classification, with the no21 Muehlner Motorsport Oreca claiming a debut podium finish.

The next round of the 2022 European Le Mans Series will be the 4 Hours of Barcelona on Sunday 28 August.

CLICK HERE for the provisional result from the 4 Hours of Monza. LMGTE result remains

Patrick Pilet – no28 IDEC Sport Oreca 07-Gibson: This is the first prototype podium and win together so, yes, it’s just an amazing feeling. I started the story with IDEC in Le Mans two years ago and I have the chance to drive with these two guys last year. We deserve a lot better, but the first two races were great performances but, let’s say not everything was in the right place and, today, was just amazing.

“We started P9, I have a difficult qualifying yesterday.It was quick but I made a mistake in my quick lap so we had to start from P9. But the car was fantastic. All day long we have such a strong pace and I managed to come back to the lead and open the gap a bit to the others. Unfortunately, we got a penalty but it was good for Paul Loup like this, he didn’t have to cruise until the end, he had to push a bit because we are on a different strategy. I’m so proud of this guy.

“You know, it’s a small team but with a lot of energy, a lot of passion. And for me also it’s a great thing. So, the first prototype win, I hope there are going to be a lot more in the future. Yes, thanks to all the team.”

Ben Hanley – no24 Nielsen Racing Oreca 07-Gibson: “It was fantastic for you guys watching but not for me in the car. But, the guys did a great job on the strategy. I think the key in my stints really was, there was a couple of overtakes, but it was in and out laps and I feel like they were really critical. And so that’s probably the hardest places where I was pushing, because I was trying to save some tyre because of the heat was definitely the in laps and out laps. So twice we got out in clean air and that really gave us an advantage and jumped a couple of places. And then we were just hanging on till the end. Like I said, it was eventful for you guys and it was worrying for me in the car trying to keep everyone behind us.”